From the Beer Writer: While I understand their purpose and appreciate their existence, higher-alcohol beer-styles crafted at “session” strengths (generally regarded as lower than 5% alcohol-by-volume) don’t usually do much for me. I tend to prefer styles brewed to their traditional ABVs, especially when it comes to India pale ales. Many session IPAs lack the body to complement the big hops San Diego brewers pack into such creations. It’s a tall order, delivering our region’s hallmark hoppiness in a low-ABV package, and I’d say the success-rate of local breweries is like that of a great baseball player…somewhere in the high-20 to low-30 percentile. But stellar session IPAs are out there, and that contingent includes Culture Amarillo SIPA. One of the session IPAs focused on high-profile hops by Solana Beach-based Culture Brewing Company, this centers on its namesake component, delivering assertive pine-cone and resin notes. Recently, I had the opportunity to try this beer alongside its El Dorado counterpart and, despite not being as fresh, Amarillo won out. Not only was it richer in flavor, but it felt more like a balanced, standard-ABV IPA. It had all the hop-punch I wanted at just 4.8% ABV with zero trace of dilution. A fresh batch of this beer will be on-tap with a whopping 30-plus others brewed for Culture’s fourth anniversary celebration, taking place on Saturday, February 18 from 12 to 6 p.m. at its Solana Beach headquarters.
From the Brewer: “Personally, I have always liked coming up with wacky and clever names for beer, but I do believe that keeping our beers nameless has the benefit of making a visit to our tasting rooms very simple and straightforward. Having said that, the Amarillo SIPA literally speaks for itself. Since all of our session IPAs are single-hopped with whichever hop sounds best for that brew-day, the Amarillo SIPA–you guessed it–is single-hopped from start-to-finish with Amarillo hops. The great part about using the same hop for bittering, finishing and dry-hopping, is that it allows the beer enthusiast to really gain an understanding and appreciation for that one specific hop; in this case, Amarillo. You’ll notice an orange bouquet greeting your nose followed by slightly spicy and lemon-like notes even before taking that first sip. Utilizing only Amarillo hops makes this SIPA more aromatic and refreshing, yet less bitter than most other session beers. Munich and caramel malts, traditionally used for more robust and darker ales, add pleasant biscuity and malty flavor to the body while providing a clean finish and beautiful golden hue. What I’m trying to get across is that this seemingly simple SIPA is actually full of character and very well balanced…not to mention it has a low alcohol-content so you can have as much as your heart desires.”–Aleks Kostka, Head Brewer, Culture Brewing Company